Ben Smith, Air Canada’s President for Passenger Airlines, while addressing an aviation industry conference recently said that international first class was in fact no longer needed except on few routes where global banking centers exist such as London, Tokyo and New York.
Smith said that Air Canada was among the world’s first carriers which decided to completely remove first class. The airline took a pragmatic decision to instead install flatbeds in business class on most of its aircrafts fleet offering direct aisle access to all long-haul international passengers traveling to business destinations.
“Business Class is a strong enough product for most of our customers, who prefer to get a good night’s sleep, and which are affordably priced. This is by far the best thing for all those who want to travel luxuriously, rather than pay outrageously high-fare in first class for over-the-top service. I also want to say that our business class product offerings are indeed superior coming out of North America,” said Mr. Smith.
American Airlines is set to become the only airline in North America with international first class. The airline will have first class only on its 20 Boeing 777-300ER aircrafts to be operated on the longest international routes. Another leading U.S. carrier United Airlines has already indicated that its first class would be retired within the new few years. The airline is replacing first class with its new Polaris Business Class. It may be recalled that U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines had abandoned its first class for quite many years now.
However, some big international airlines such as Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa still continue to offer first class cabins to their respective customers. There’s though a growing trend now to remove first class from some aircrafts. Some of the airlines are even shrinking the sizes of their first class cabins. One thing is though now abundantly clear that the focus would be more on business class cabins in coming years.